Emergency Distance Teaching during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic : Narratives from upper secondary school teachers in Sweden
Abstract: Background: In March 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, suddenly and completely unexpected, governments worldwide replaced face-to-face education with emergency distance teaching. Studies showed that students and teachers, in general, had been negatively affected by the strategy. Upper secondary school teachers and students in Sweden were affected and have now worked and studied from home for more than one year. Problem: Teachers were now asked to do extraordinary things regarding course delivery and learning. However, school curricula have not changed, and it has been up to the teachers to adapt their teaching to fulfil the curricula. Few studies provided teachers’ perspectives on this extraordinary situation and why it was essential to enter the teacher’s world and determine how this affected them and their work. Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore the Swedish upper secondary school teachers' experiences of Emergency Distance Teaching during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Three research questions were considered sufficient to answer this aim. Method: A qualitative narrative design captured the lived experiences of Swedish upper secondary school teachers. Stories from two teachers that worked in two different school contexts were collected. Result: The stories were personal, emotional, and revealing and answered the research questions. The Qualitative content analysis identified three themes: (1) Distant and Remote Communication, (2) Key are to be Present, Kind, and Innovative, and (3) Trials. Both teachers' most decisive change and challenges were the difficulties they experienced with maintaining connectedness and the interrupted teacher-student relationship, which was especially difficult in vocational programs. The result surprisingly showed that some students had benefitted from EDT and showed higher attendance than before. The stories showed how the teachers struggled to be creative to fulfil students' vital needs and often used outside-box strategies to manage. The teachers also showed how they felt lonely and how this had affected their job satisfaction and well-being. Significant, was that the result showed that the teachers had gained new skills and knowledge of how to handle the best teaching during school closure, even if it were not the teaching that they would prefer. Conclusion: Remote and distance teaching will become increasingly important in the future, considering Anthropogenic Climate Change. There is a strong call for a holistic transdisciplinary approach to identify and manage the organizational and psychological impacts of EDT on Swedish upper secondary school teachers. Strategies specifically targeting teachers working with vocational programs and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds are needed to avoid exacerbating existing disparities. Teachers required close contact with their students to have job satisfaction and they needed to be included and receive clear support, trust, and guidelines from school management.
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